Established in 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation was set up to support projects that aim to protect endangered wildlife and threatened ecosystems and communities. It has six main grant-making programmes including two that focus on ‘wildlife and landscapes’ and ‘marine life and oceans’. Within these two areas are three funds that aim to protect lions, sharks and rays and elephants.
The LDF already had an identity for its lions fund (a lions head made from contour lines within a square container) and so Mark Richardson of Manchester-based studio Superfried was asked to develop identities for the other two, the Shark Conservation Fund and the Elephant Crisis Fund.
“They stated it was important to continue the idea of conveying both the species and landscape for the two additional funds,” he says. “This was to ensure they all felt like they were part of one group and it is essential to protect both if the animals are to survive and flourish.”
The first of new funds Richardson worked on was a global partnership set-up to protect sharks and rays. “The Shark Conservation Fund requested that, if possible, the identity should simultaneously represent both species and their natural habitat, since they would be aiming to protect all three,” he explains.
“With this in mind I looked for similarities in the form of both rays and sharks. Likewise to convey their habitat, waves and their fins were conveniently close in shape.”
Richardson’s chosen route was to depict the two animals alongside each other in profile, with the ray’s wings also evoking the shape of the shark’s fin. To prevent the illustration of the ray from disappearing at a smaller scale, the shark was made solid, Richardson explains, and he employed negative space to highlight the former and create greater distinction between the two species.
Following this work, Richardson also created an identity for the LDF’s Elephant Crisis Fund set-up to protect elephants and tackle the ivory market, he explains.
“Continuing the theme it was essential that the identity should simultaneously represent both the species and their natural habitat,” he says. “To achieve this, and maintain a consistent feel across the brands, I employed the approach adopted for the original lion fund and looked at ways to illustrate elephants via topographic contours.”
“Once again, two routes emerged – face on and profile,” Richardson continues. “The portrait options were powerful, but there were concerns they could look too fierce and potentially like a trophy head. In addition to this, the contour effect was stronger in profile and the other two identities had taken this approach.”
“With the profile shark and elephant routes selected by the client, before making final tweaks and amends, I developed various mock-ups to ensure the marque was sufficiently versatile across all media,” he says. “It was here that a further connection between the elephants and their habitat emerged.”
Richardson noticed that close-up shots of elephant skin resembled the parched landscapes they inhabit and worked up some photographs as backgrounds, applying a similar technique to ideas for the Shark Conservation Fund (both of which are mock-ups at this stage). “The patterned skin of rays and sharks was also employed to highlight their almost surreal, beautiful and incredibly diverse markings, often praised for land animals, but regularly overlooked for creatures of the sea,” he adds.